It happened on December 16, 1991—our eighth wedding anniversary. On that day our first son died as the result of a babysitter’s actions. He was only two and a half months old.
The following months and years were clouded by sadness, anger, disappointment, and hopelessness. The personal turmoil that overcame me is indescribable. Nothing anyone said or did eased my pain.
I read many books and scriptures, but none of them satisfied my cry for answers.
I had the rare opportunity to counsel with Elder James E. Faust (1920–2007), then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, because of his friendship with my parents. (He met my mother, Flavia, and her family while serving his mission in Brazil.) I was certain Elder Faust would be able to comfort me.
I asked many questions while he patiently listened. Elder Faust acknowledged that what I had experienced was certainly painful and extremely difficult. He shared several scriptures and talked about the need to work through my grief and find total submission to the Lord’s will in order to be reunited with my son again. He said, “Sylvia, this is about you now. I realize you are worried about your son, but in reality, you should be worried about yourself and how to rebuild your life. It won’t be easy, but you can mend your heart through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
He then gave me a blessing that I would be able to understand the vital role Jesus Christ plays in our existence and allow Him to be the source of strength I needed.
I left our meeting still discouraged; his counsel seemed so simple and yet so unattainable. My mother felt hopeless as well since nothing she said to me seemed to help. I recall her saying, “Please have faith and hope in our Savior, and allow time to heal your wounds.”
In my personal journey to attain joy once again, I decided to take to heart the advice I had been given and find out what it truly meant to put my faith in the Savior. Things didn’t change immediately. But day by day and year by year, with the help of prayer and a growing testimony, I came to know without a doubt that the Savior can heal our wounds.
I realize that not everyone can have the opportunity to meet with an Apostle, as I did. But everyone can—and does—have the opportunity to know the Savior and to cast his or her burdens on Him. And yes, the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives can ease any pain.
I know that having the Lord in our lives can bring joy to our existence. He is our friend, our teacher, and an example of enduring to the end. He truly endured all things, and He knows what we are suffering (see Alma 7:11–12). His Atonement has brought about the miracle of putting broken pieces back together in this life in preparation for the next.
I will always be grateful for Elder Faust’s and my mother’s words. They helped me realize that whatever my hardship may be, Jesus Christ is the one constant source of support and hope I have.